Writing is so amazing. We spend years working on a book, revising, editing and then finally get out into the world and then it's unbelievable to get a response from readers. To see it reflected in their eyes. When my debut young adult novel was published it kind of disappeared into ether. Thankfully I was shortlisted and won a prize so I knew that people were reading it.
This time around I'm getting readers emailing me after reading my book and it's such a buzz. In the past week I've had messages from male readers and they have both connected with the stories of my father and stepfather which is so special and so interesting. Writing this book I always thought of it as a book about the women in my family, and yet the men have had interesting stories too.
The first message was from a first generation male from Bangladesh who could relate to my father's struggles as a migrant acclimating to a new culture.
"I have been reading your memoir for last few days, and it's highly disturbing and shocking to see our own reflections in someone else's life. What a migrant family can go through in their search for a 'so called' better life is unimaginable. Thanks for writing such a memoir, without which I would have thought that it's only me and my children who are going through this."Things nobody knows but me" is an apt name, for I thought that whatever I am going through is very unique and applies only to me. I am sure you'd be relieved to know that those things are known to many others like me and other migrants, especially from some not-so-fortunate parts of the world."
The second one was from a father who could relate to my stepfather's struggle to be both a disciplinarian and a playmate.
"Heard an interview with Amra on radio national a week or two ago, and then, being suitably impressed, borrowed “Things nobody knows...” from the local library. Really well written, and enjoying totally her storytelling. Interesting how reading Mills and Boon improved her English vocabulary exponentially, and had to stop and consider the very good sentence about Izet on p.167..”He lacked the insight to see that he could not be both our playmate and our parent: to be one he had to relinquish the other”. How very true. I had to learn that one too as a father. Well done Amra!"
I never thought I would want to write a memoir again but after the death of my stepfather I thought there was the need for a story about men and how they process depression and sadness through anger. And reading these two messages is giving me an indication that there might be a market for such a memoir.
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Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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